MetLife to Snoopy: You're fired!

U.S. insurance giant MetLife is waving goodbye to Snoopy and the Peanuts gang, ending a more than three-decade branding relationship.

New York-based MetLife (MET)  said Thursday it's launching a new global brand platform, and there won't be room for the world-famous cartoon characters as the company moves forward with plans to spin off most of its U.S. life insurance business next year.

"We brought in Snoopy over 30 years ago to make our company more friendly and approachable during a time when insurance companies were seen as cold and distant. Snoopy helped drive our business and served an important role at the time," Esther Lee, MetLife's global chief marketing officer said in an official statement about the decision.

"We have great respect for these iconic characters," Lee said about Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang. "However, as we focus on our future, it's important that we associate our brand directly with the work we do and the partnership we have with our customers."

The company's new visual brand will feature blue and green colors together "in a symbol of partnership to form an M for MetLife," the insurance giant said. The new image will be rolled out globally through 2017, the company said.

The company also plans to replace its "Met Life. I can do this," branding tagline with "MetLife: Navigating life together."

Additionally, MetLife is phasing out its longtime use of blimps in the skies over major U.S. sporting events.

The company has a multiyear contract  to use Snoopy and other Peanuts cartoon characters, The Wall Street Journal reported. The most recent contract was approved in 2014 and costs the company as much as $15 million annually, the report said.

MetLife earlier this month announced that a large portion of its U.S. life insurance business would be spun off under the name Brighthouse Financial to existing shareholders. The new company will have $240 billion of total assets and approximately 2.6 million insurance policies and annuity contracts, based on financials as of June 30, 2016, the company said.

However, the announcement did not preclude the possibility that creation of Brighthouse Financial could instead take the form of an initial public offering.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Kevin McCoy on Twitter: @kmccoynyc


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